There is no doubt that the socio-economic development of Nigeria as well as those of many countries, particularly those in Africa is largely dependent on how much they are able to harness their water resources to ensure access to food security.
Water scarcity in Nigeria, nay Africa particularly those for agriculture does not derive from a physical lack of water resources, but due in part, to a lack of adaptive capacity on the part of core stakeholders like the government, engineers, scientists, universities and farmers etc to manage the available water, and the lack of political will by government to make requisite investment in the sector.
Two typical contrasting scenarios are good examples in this context. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has about 60% of the total water resources of Africa, but has only 52% of its population having access to potable water. Libya, a desert country, has not got water because of the Sahara desert. It barely rains in Libya, but the government in Tripoli has been able to mine water from the depth of the ground (about 500 meters) and conveying it over hundreds of kilometers. While the DRC case shows a lack of political will for socio-economic development, those of Libya is a clear manifestation of political will.
Adaptive capacity in this context is all about the knowledge and capability on water conservation, water storage, land management and rain harvesting etc in order to overcome the variability of rainfall. These are necessary to cover deficit during droughts.
Africa’s failure to grow adaptive capacity to our abundant water resources is manifest in the context of the fact that 5,400 billion of m3 of water is available in Africa but only 4% is currently being tapped for irrigation, food production and hydroelectricity. Also, Africa’s exploitable hydroelectric potential is estimated at approximately 1.4 million giga watts hours/year, which is sufficient to supply electricity for the entire continent but only 3% of this hydroelectric potential is currently being used.
As at today these twin problems of lack of political will; and lack of adaptive capacity are militating against the crucial need for equitable and sustainable development of our water resources to reduce poverty.
There is need for efforts to improve the capacity of all the parties involved in the water sector and also in working with national, regional and international decision makers, so as to forge a commitment to water security. This will guaranty sufficient supply of sustainable water for human consumption and health, agricultural productivity, hydroelectric energy, industrial activity and the protection of ecosystems and the environment.
It should be noted that the development of water conservation infrastructure is a pre-condition for the development of agriculture and guaranteeing food security as well as stock breeding.
According to the World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report, growth in Africa’s agricultural sector is vital for poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A correspondent investment is therefore required because such is capable of spurring knowledge sharing, information dissemination and capacity strengthening.
It would launch innovative business lines in support of agricultural water management and sustainable development. It will also foster regional integration, coordination and partnership, and empowerment of national and regional stakeholders vis avis the realization that Africa have got 60 surface water basins and 38 aquifer tables (AfDB,2008) that are shared among two or more countries.